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Court: New York schools, in offering community access, may bar worship

Catholic World News - June 06, 2011

A panel of a federal appeals court has ruled that New York City may prevent religious organizations from holding worship services in public school buildings. The ruling overturned a federal district court decision that had barred the city from discriminating against religious organizations when it offered community access to school buildings.

“When worship services are performed in a place, the nature of the site changes,” the appeals court ruled in its June 2 decision. “The site is no longer simply a room in a school being used temporarily for some activity. The church has made the school the place for the performance of its rites, and might well appear to have established itself there. The place has, at least for a time, become the church.”

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  • Posted by: dad2dlj - Jun. 06, 2011 6:00 PM ET USA

    The public that funds the construction and maintenance of those schools is part of the public seeking to use the buildings for religious study or worship when otherwise unoccupied . The court would be wise to remember that -- the public owns those buildings, not the government, and if the use of the buildings by the public is administered in a fair, uniform and indiscriminatory way, the courts have no basis to rule in this manner. This is a further step in freedom from and not of religion.

  • Posted by: wolfdavef3415 - Jun. 06, 2011 1:42 PM ET USA

    This is discrimination. Not against a particular religion, but against all religions save atheism. In this instance, the court is promoting atheism, a recognized belief system in the United States, above all of the other organized religions. This is a direct violation of the First Amendment. Not just the freedom of belief, but also the right to peaceably assemble. If you can't assemble on public property to exercise your 1st amendment belief rights, where? In church? Hardly the spirit of the law

  • Posted by: Gaby - Jun. 06, 2011 11:23 AM ET USA

    The ruling arose out of a case of a Protestant group using a school building for BIBLE STUDY - which is not at all the same thing as "worship". And while this might SOUND discriminatory, the judge has a point: I would not want my kids attending a school which was being used for Muslim or Wiccan or Satanic service on weekends!!! This definitely cuts both ways- secularists want to be protected from the spirit of Christianity; but Christians want to be protected from evil spirits.

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